Social Network Links
Powered by Squarespace
Search the Riddleblog
"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

____________________________

Wednesday
Nov142018

"Not by Works, But Through Faith" -- Galatians 2:15-21

The Third in a Series of Sermons on the Book of Galatians

Paul opens his letter to the churches of Galatia by taking direct aim at the false gospel which those identified as Judaizers were preaching to the Galatians–and which many Galatians were embracing!  The Apostle exposes the deceitful tactics the Judaizers used to infiltrate the Galatian churches spying on the liberty which Christians enjoyed.  In response, Paul lays out the specifics of the gospel revealed to him by Jesus Christ–a gospel not of works, but of faith in Jesus.

No doubt, Paul was angry when he wrote Galatians.  During his second missionary journey, Paul traveled throughout the region of Galatia, preaching Christ crucified–publicly placarding Christ (Galatians 3:1) to all who would listen.  God graciously granted Paul the privilege of seeing many Gentiles converted from paganism to faith in Jesus, the Son of God.  Many Jews who lived in the region also came to believe that Jesus Christ was Israel’s Messiah as promised throughout the Old Testament.  They too embraced the same Savior the Gentiles had through faith.  It was not long after Paul left the region that a group of false teachers, known to us as Judaizers, infiltrated these churches, undermining Paul’s authority and distorting the gospel which he had just preached to them.  The so-called gospel these Judaizers were proclaiming was a different gospel from that preached by Paul, which was, in reality, no gospel at all.

The Judaizers were a group of Jews who apparently converted to Christianity once convinced that Jesus was Israel’s Messiah.  But as zealous Jews, and fully committed to the law of Moses, they were not eager to see the ways of their fathers overturned.  In addition to faith in Jesus Christ, they contended, Gentile converts to Christianity must also submit to circumcision and keep elements of the ceremonial law in order to be justified, just as they were doing.  Paul describes how these Judaizers deceptively entered into the Galatian churches by spying on the liberty that the Gentile Christians were enjoying.  They had even been able to pressure Peter and Barnabas into withdrawing from Gentile believers who did not keep ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic Law such as the dietary laws.  

In chapter 2:11-14 of this epistle, Paul recounts how he was forced to confront Peter to his face in Antioch, since Peter was hypocritically living as a Gentile–Peter had acquired a taste for pork chops and honey-baked ham–but after a visit from a group of Judaizers, Peter began insisting that Gentile converts keep the dietary laws that he had given up keeping.  “Do as I say, not as I do,” became Peter’s motto, a reaction arising from his fear of the Judaizers.  As Paul saw it, Peter’s actions compromised the gospel, since the gospel has nothing to do whatsoever with human merit, circumcision, and the obedience to the law of Moses, but is instead based upon the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In verses 15-16 of Galatians 2, we come to the very heart of Paul’s argument he will use throughout the rest of the letter.  The apostle defines the gospel as a doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone, on account of Christ alone.  Paul writes, “we ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”  Verse 16 has been correctly identified as “the doctrine of justification in a nutshell.”  This is one of the clearest definitions in all of Scripture regarding the doctrine of justification, that is, of how we as sinners obtain a “right standing” before God. 

To read the rest of this sermon: Click Here

Monday
Nov122018

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (November 12-18)

Sunday Morning, November 18:  We are working our way through the "Night Visions" of Zechariah as part of our series on the Minor Prophets.  This week we come to Zechariah 5:1-14 and the visions of a flying scroll and a woman in a basket.  What do these mean?  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Sunday AfternoonWhy are Christians obligated to join Christ's church?  We will tackle that question when we take up article 28 of the Belgic Confession.  Our afternoon service begins at 1:15 p.m.   

Wednesday Night Bible Study (November 14) @ 7:30 p.m.  We continue our series Apologetics in a Post-Christian Age.  We are discussing the work of the Holy Spirit in relation to Christian evidences.  This week we will consider B. B. Warfield's concept of the Witness of the Spirit. 

The Academy (November 16):  We begin a short series on the Eschatology of the Reformers.  What did Luther and Calvin believe about the end times?

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Church), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

Sunday
Nov112018

"The Lord of the Whole Earth" -- Zechariah 4:1-14

Here's the audio from this week's sermon on the Minor Prophets from the Book of Zechariah: Click Here

Thursday
Nov082018

Apologetics in a Post Christian Age (Audio) -- "The Witness of the Holy Spirit" (Part Two)

Here's the audio from the Wednesday night Bible Study: 

Wednesday
Nov072018

"The Truth of the Gospel" -- Galatians 1:10-2:14

The Second in A Series of Sermons on the Book of Galatians

Paul’s personal calling from the Risen and Ascended Jesus was to preach the same gospel which Jesus revealed to him.  As Paul now understands, he was set apart by Jesus and called by God’s grace for this very task.  In fulfilling that call the Apostle founded a number of churches in Galatia, preaching the gospel of Christ crucified throughout the region.  But soon after his departure from the area, the gospel was under full assault, prompting Paul to write his epistle to the Galatians, one of the most direct and confrontational letters in the New Testament.

Last time, we worked our way through the opening verses of the Book of Galatians (vv. 1-9) which is, as we saw, Paul’s response to a serious situation developing in Galatia.  Paul will describe how he had preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Galatians previously, publicly placarding Jesus Christ before their very eyes (3:1).  But shortly after he departed the area, a group of false teachers, known as Judaizers, gained a foothold in these same churches.  Teaching that in order to be justified (regarded as “right” before God), that in addition to placing one’s faith in Jesus, Gentile converts also must submit to circumcision and keep certain elements of the ceremonial law just as the Judaizers were doing.  In other words, Gentile believers must believe in Jesus, but live as Jews.  Paul’s gospel of Christ crucified was very disconcerting to these false teachers since it removes all place for human merit and good works as a ground of being declared “righteous” before God (“justified”).  This “different gospel” which the Judaizers were teaching was in reality “no gospel.”  Paul opposed them with everything in him.

In responding to the false teaching and accusations of the Judaizers, Paul sets out four points for the Galatians to consider in Galatians 1:10-2:14.  First, Paul speaks of the origin of the Gospel he preaches.  Second, he describes the nature of his call as apostle to the Gentiles.  Third, Paul recounts his life as a Jew and explains his zeal for the religion of his fathers.  Finally, he describes his two prior visits to Jerusalem and his dealings with the apostles, Peter, James and John, along with the rise of the Judaizing heresy, culminating in Paul confronting Peter about the latter’s apparent acceptance of this heresy.  

We begin with verses 10-12, and Paul’s first point of defense.  The gospel of Christ crucified is not a figment of his imagination.  The gospel which Paul preached was personally revealed to him by Jesus.  Amazed at the speed at which the Galatians had been taken in by these false teachers, Paul offers a lament of sorts, asking “am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.  For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man’s gospel.  For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The gospel is centered in the objective and historical work of Jesus Christ for us; his life, death, burial, and resurrection according to the Scriptures as in 1 Corinthians 15:1-9.  In Romans 1:16-17, the gospel is defined in terms of the revelation of the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.  If preaching the gospel is recounting the facts of redemption, the charge of novelty made against Paul collapses since the facts surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection were common knowledge.  Given the offence of the gospel and its character as a stumbling block to the Jew and foolishness to the Gentile (cf. I Corinthians 1:23), Paul could hardly be preaching this message in order to gain favor with men.  He himself at one time had opposed the new sect of “Christians” with great zeal.

To read the rest of this sermon:   Click Here

Monday
Nov052018

This Week at Christ Reformed Church (November 5-11)

Sunday Morning, November 11:  We continue our series on the Minor Prophets.  Our text this week is Zechariah 4:1-14--the fifth night vision of a Menorah and two Olive trees.  What do these mean?  Our worship service begins at 10:30 a.m.

Note:  Our New Members Class concludes this week in room 601 @ 9:00 a.m.  Our topic is the responsibilities and privileges of church membership.

Sunday Afternoon:  We are currently studying the Belgic Confession.  Why do we as Protestants confess a "Holy and Catholic Church?"  We will answer that question when we take up article 27.  Our afternoon service begins at 1:15 p.m.   

Wednesday Night Bible Study (November 7) @ 7:30 p.m.  We continue our series Apologetics in a Post-Christian Age.  We will continue to address the work of the Holy Spirit in relation to Christian evidences and coming to faith. 

The Academy (November 9):  We are working our way through the concluding lectures in our lecture/discussion series based upon Allen Guelzo's Teaching Company Course, The American Mind.  This week's lecture is "The Rise of the Neo-Conservatives," which deals with the Reagan Revolution.

For more information on Christ Reformed Church you can always find us here (Christ Reformed Church), or on Facebook (Christ Reformed on Facebook).

Sunday
Nov042018

"Remove the Filthy Garments" -- Zechariah 3:1-10

Here's the audio from this morning's sermon on the Minor Prophets from the Book of Zechariah

Click Here

Thursday
Nov012018

Apologetics in a Post Christian Age (Audio) -- "The Witness of the Holy Spirit"

Here's the audio from the Wednesday night Bible Study: The Witness of the Holy Spirit

Wednesday
Oct312018

Mike Horton's New Book on Justification (Two Volumes)

Mike Horton's two volume work on justification is soon to be released.

Here's the publisher's blurb and endorsements:

The doctrine of justification stands at the center of our systematic reflection on the meaning of salvation as well as our piety, mission, and life together. In his two-volume work on the doctrine of justification, Michael Horton seeks not simply to repeat noble doctrinal formulas and traditional proof texts, but to encounter the remarkable biblical justification texts in conversation with the provocative proposals that, despite a wide range of differences, have reignited the contemporary debates around justification.

Volume 1 engages in a descriptive task - an exercise in historical theology exploring the doctrine of justification from the patristic era to the Reformation. Broadening the scope, Horton explores patristic discussions of justification under the rubric of the "great exchange." He provides a map for contemporary discussions of justification, identifying and engaging his principal interlocutors: Origen, Chrysostom, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Gabriel Biel, and the magisterial reformers. Observing the assimilation of justification to the doctrine of penance in medieval theology, especially via Peter Lombard, the work studies the transformations of the doctrine through Aquinas, Scotus and the nominalists leading up to the era of the Reformation and the Council of Trent. He concludes his first study by examining the hermeneutical and theological significance of the Reformers’ understanding of the law and the gospel and the resultant covenantal scheme that became formative in Reformed theology. This then opens the door to the constructive task of volume 2 - to investigate the biblical doctrine of justification in light of contemporary exegesis.

“This thorough, systematic, and far-ranging work advances a reading both distinctive and yet more traditional than many of today’s dominant paradigms.”—CRAIG KEENER, Asbury Theological Seminary

“Protestant and Catholic readers . . . will profit by wrestling with this learned historical study.”—GERALD R. MCDERMOTT, Beeson Divinity School

“This is a volume bristling with theological insight and intellectual energy.”—SIMON GATHERCOLE, University of Cambridge

“Very impressive and a major contribution to the clarification of the significant issues.”—ROBERT KOLB, Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis

“A superb and engaging book, marked by a careful and generous listening to other theological traditions. It will not only reenergize the reader with a passion for understanding this long-running doctrinal conversation, but also challenge one to engage critically.”—EDUARDO J. ECHEVERRIA, Sacred Heart Major Seminary

You can order both volumes here:  Horton on Justification

Wednesday
Oct312018

"The Gospel of Christ" -- Galatians 1:1-9

The First in a Series of Sermons on Paul's Letter to the Galatians

With good reason, the Book of Galatians has been called the magna carte of Christian liberty.  There is perhaps no portion of Holy Scripture which packs the punch of Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia.  In this letter Paul sets out what is perhaps the most passionate defense of the gospel found in all the New Testament.  The apostle is angry when he writes this letter–he calls the Galatians “foolish” (3:1) and even tells them if they want to begin with circumcision, they might as well to go the whole way and emasculate themselves (5:12).  Strong words from the apostle, but much is at stake.  

The church to which Paul is writing is one which he himself helped to found not long before.  This same church was now tolerating, if not openly embracing, a form of teaching which directly contradicts what the apostle previously taught them about the saving work of Jesus Christ.  For Paul, this is a spiritual battle to be fought over the meaning of the gospel.  He is fighting for the very soul of these churches.  He minces no words with those whom he regards as enemies of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Before we work our way through this letter, it is necessary take a look at the historical background which led to its composition.  Paul’s circular letter to the churches in Galatia (a region located in what is now south-central Turkey) and was written in AD 48, just prior to the Jerusalem Council described in Acts 15:1-21.  By looking at Paul’s comments here in light of events recounted in the Book of Acts, we know that Paul visited the southern part of Galatia at least twice during the missionary journey described in Acts 14:21.  In Galatians 2, Paul describes his visit to Jerusalem on the occasion of a great famine which hit the city as described in Acts 11:27-30.  In Galatians 4:13, Paul refers to having preached the gospel to the Galatians previously.  
 
This indicates that Galatians was written in the days preceding the Jerusalem Council, when the pressing question of Gentile conformity to the Law of Moses was hotly debated before being definitively settled by the leaders of the church.  The pressing question was “must Gentile believers in Jesus live like Jews in order to be faithful Christians?”  These circumstances provide compelling evidence that Galatians is Paul’s earliest letter included in the canon of the New Testament, and the doctrine of justification is the basic gospel message Paul proclaimed from the very beginning of his ministry as apostle to the Gentiles.

As a result of Jewish opposition to Paul’s proclamation of Christ crucified in the synagogues of the region, Paul and Barnabas turned to preaching to the Gentiles.  Many were converted.  Soon after Paul and Barnabas left Galatia, Jewish converts to Christianity began teaching in the churches that Gentile converts must submit to the Law of Moses and undergo circumcision in order to be regarded as “right before God” (justified).  In Galatians 1:7, Paul refers to unnamed individuals who he says were throwing the Galatians into confusion soon after he had departed the area.  

Known to us as the Judaizers, these false teachers were undermining Paul’s gospel by claiming that his preaching was actually dangerous since it did not require obedience to the law of God as a condition of deliverance from the wrath of God.  Furthermore, they claimed, Paul’s authority was inferior to that of other apostles such as Peter and James, who were more closely associated with Jesus, the Jerusalem church, and with Judaism (1:1; 6:17).

To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here